In the Virginia/D.C. metro area, if you are driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs and cause a fatal accident, you can be charged with involuntary manslaughter. The allegations are serious and can result in years in prison among other penalties.
A charge of this kind requires an experienced DUI defense attorney with a solid capability to put together a viable defense. S.L. England is that kind of DUI attorney. His experience, insight, knowledge, and skills may be just what you need to get the best outcome for your specific case. Though involuntary manslaughter charges are difficult charges to defend, especially when the result of a DUI – they are still defensible. Contact S.L. England to discuss your case and find out how he may be able to help.
Understanding a Fatal DUI in Virginia and D.C.
Fatal DUIs in Virginia and D.C. are felony DUIs but are defined slightly different even though the concept is similar. In either case, you can be charged with manslaughter if you were illegally intoxicated while operating a vehicle and causing an accident.
Virginia Code § 18.2-36.1 outlines when specific conduct can be punishable as involuntary manslaughter:
[a]ny person who, as a result of driving under the influence in violation of clause (ii), (iii), or (iv) of § 18.2-266 or any local ordinance substantially similar thereto unintentionally causes the death of another person, shall be guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
The offense could also be enhanced to aggravated involuntary manslaughter:
[I]f, in addition, the conduct of the defendant was so gross, wanton and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life.
Washington, D.C. Code
In D.C., you can be charged with manslaughter if you caused another person's death D.C. Code § 50–2203.02 includes negligent homicide where death is due to another person's “careless, reckless, or negligent” operation of a vehicle as manslaughter. So, if you are not found guilty of manslaughter, you can be found guilty of negligent homicide.
Penalties for a Fatal DUI Conviction in Virginia or D.C.
The penalties you can expect for a conviction are dependent on the jurisdiction, the crime of which you are actually found guilty (e.g., negligent homicide versus involuntary manslaughter versus aggravated involuntary manslaughter), and the overall circumstances.
If in Virginia and found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, you can expect sentencing to include prison between one and 10 years and a fine of up to $2,500 along with driver's license revocation. A conviction of aggravated involuntary manslaughter can result in a mandatory one-year minimum term of imprisonment but you could be sentenced up to 20 years in prison, and your driver's license will also be revoked.
Washington, D.C. Penalties
If in D.C. and found guilty only of negligent homicide, you can expect imprisonment of up to five years and a fine not more than $12,500, but if you are found guilty of manslaughter, you could be sentenced up to 30 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $75,000.
Developing a Defense Strategy for an Involuntary Manslaughter/DUI Case in Virginia and D.C.
To prove a fatal DUI, you must first prove the alleged offender was indeed driving unlawfully under the influence of alcohol or drugs. DUI cases are defensible but it may take an experienced attorney like S.L. England to develop a strong DUI defense, especially when the charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Ways to counter the charge of a DUI that underlies an involuntary manslaughter allegation include:
- challenging breath or blood test results;
- challenging field sobriety tests (FST);
- challenging the administration of FSTs or chemical tests;
- challenging the integrity of the equipment used for chemical testing;
- identifying improper handling of blood samples or mistakes made during the chain of custody of blood samples; and – among other
- identifying constitutional violations at the time of your arrest and filing motions to exclude evidence flowing from those violations.
But the defense does not stop at disproving a DUI – you still must prove you did not cause the accident that led to the fatal death(s). S.L. England will incorporate this into the defense by using things like witnesses, expert testimony, and accident reconstruction reports.
Contact an Experienced, Resourceful DUI Defense Attorney in the Virginia/D.C. Metro Area
If you have been involved in a fatal DUI accident and have bee subsequently charged, you need an experienced DUI defense attorney. S.L. England represents clients throughout the District of Columbia and Virginia. Contact his law office today at (202) 489-0720to learn more about his approach to DUI defense, his services, and what he may be able to do for you.